Page images

The History of the twelve great Livery Companies of London, principally collected from their grants and records, with notes and illustrations, an historical introduction, and copious accounts of each Company, and of their Estates and Charities, &c. By William Herbert, Librarian to the Corporation of London.

THIS work opens with an historical essay on the early associations termed gilds, which were either ecclesiastical or secular; the ecclesiastical gilds for devotion and alms deeds; the secular gilds for the purposes of commerce, but partaking also of the nature of the ecclesiastical in various religious observances and charitable provisions. The derivation of the term gild is from the Saxon gilban, to pay; because such fraternities contributed towards one common stock."

The Anglo-Saxon gilds had their origin, Mr. Herbert says, in the custom of frankpledge. It is remarkable that the title Alderman was first applied to the presiding member of a secular gild; and thus became afterwards appropriated to the principal officers of gildated, or corporate towns. The known Anglo-Saxon gilds are enumerated by the author. The knighten gild, the meaning of which Stow mistook. Cneughts signifying not soldiers, but young men; and these, in a martial age, were, although citizens and traders, accustomed to military exercises.

The merchants of the Steel-yard, Gilda Teutonicorum, are known to have been settled at their gild hall at Dowgate, with its appendages of wharfs and warehouses, as early as the ninth century. They were a branch of the famous Hanseatic League. The gild of Saddlers was nearly of a coeval date with the preceding; the convention recited as of old time existing (antiquitus statutum) between this fraternity and the Canons of St. Martin-le-Grand, has been noticed by Madox; and particulars, derived from ancient documents, have been given in a modern History of that foundation, which states, that they were to be brothers and participators in all the benefits arising from the services performed by the Canons by day and night; two masses were to be said weekly for the brethren of the guild, one for th living, the other for the defunct. The

[blocks in formation]

“The reign of Edward III., the great dawn of the fine arts and of commerce, that gave birth to an entire re-constitution of the trading fraternities which, from now, generally assuming a distinctive dress or livery, came to be called livery companies. The alterations under this re-constitution were numerous. Amongst the principal may be reckoned their change of name from gilds to crafts and mysteries, and the substituting for the old title of Alderman, that of Master or Warden; the name Alderman (though in use with the burillers so late as 28 Edw. I., being now restricted to the heads of the city wards).”—p. 28.

The companies were now chartered, or in other words, their privileges recognized, granted, and confirmed by royal letters patent, and the king himself condescended to become a brother of one of these societies, the Linen Armourers, or Merchant Tailors, who were then the great importers of woollen cloth, which the king sought to make the staple manufasture of his own dominions. The Merchant Tailors boasted a similar honour in having Edward the Third's grandson, Richard II. for a member of their fraternity. We may observe incidentally, that their title of linen armourers appears to have been derived from the quantity of cloth, linen, wool, and embroidered work which, in those chivalrous days, was employed for the decoration or strengthening of body armour, in quilted gambesons, emblazoned surcoats, housings for barbed horses, &c, &c.

The first proceedings of the Grocers’ Company, on founding their society, resembled those adopted in establishing modern benefit clubs. “Twentytwo persons, carrying on the business

* Wide Kempe's Historical Notices of St. Martin-le-Grand, p. 76, and p. 184,

[ocr errors]

of Pepperers in Soper's-lane, Cheapside, agree to meet together to a dinner at the Abbot of Bury’s, St. Mary Axe, and commit the particulars of their formation into a trading society to writing.”—p. 43. They elected after dinner two wardens, and a priest to sing divine offices for their souls. Liveries are not mentioned to have been worn by any of the companies before the reign of Edward I. The livery of the Leathersellers’ Company, as appears from the illumination with which their charter is ornamented, representing its delivery to them by Henry VI., was miparti (or perpendicularly divided), red and blue. In the time of James I. these fantastic costumes were laid aside, and their gowns assimilated in form and appearance to those worn at the present day. The obsequies of each individual belonging to the companies were honourably performed, as a matter incumbent on them as a body; and even at their common expense, if the defunct’s estate was not sufficient to defray his funeral. The members of the livery, in default of attendance, were subject to a fine. Most of the companies kept a state pall, called a herse-cloth, for those occasions. The Saddlers have still such a pall; it is of crimson velvet, the centre yellow silk, forming an elegant sprig pattern; on one side of the pall there is embroidered, in raised work of gold thread, in the black letter character, the words, “In te, Domine, sperari;” and on the other, “Ne me confunde in acternam.” On the head and foot of the pall are embroidered the arms of the Company, and four kneeling angels surrounding the letters I. H. S., encircled by a glory; the whole is bordered with a broad gold fringe. Mr. Herbert describes a similar ancient pall, of the most magnificent description, belonging to the Fishmongers, called William of Walworth's, which he, however, thinks was made about the reign of Henry VII. or VIII. He says it was the last Catholic pall used by the Company; that faith, he adds, “being asterwards disused, accounts for its little wear and freshness.” We here, without wishing to exercise an hypercritical license, protest against the general use of the word Catholic in modern days, to designate the Romish church and its tenets, which, of all others, have the least catholicity to

Review.—Herbert's History of the City Companies.


boast. The observation is pointed at an absurd misnomer, not at our author, whose meaning in common parlance is of course obvious enough. Great indeed was the sacrifice of works of art at the period of the reformation, and would the change could have been effected without such devastation Yet if such was to be, in the ebullition of the moment, the price of spiritual emancipation, who, comparing its relative value, would hesitate that it should be paid : The ancient custom of seasting at funerals is noticed. The Merchant Tailors' records state, that it was of old the practice of their Society to attend the funerals of worshipful brethren, and on the day of their interment to partake of a dinner at the hall, at which a commendable grace was said for the good brother deceased. Those lines quoted by Weever, might have been appositely referred to here—

“When the bells be merrily rung,
And the mass devoutly sung,
And the meat merrily eaten,
Then shall Robert Trapps, his wife,
and children, be forgotten: ”

An important notice of the encouragement given by Henry V. to the use of our vernacular tongue in public documents, is preserved among the records of the Brewers’ Company. An extract is thus given by Mr. Herbert, who has evidently modernized the English. “Whereas our mother tongue, to wit, the English tongue, hath in modern days begun to be honourably enlarged and adorned, for that our most excellent lord king Henry V., hath in his letters missive and divers affairs touching his own person, more willingly chosen to declare the merits of his will, and for the better understanding of his people, hath, with diligent mind, procured the common idiom, setting aside others [i. e. the Norman French and Latin], to be commended by the exercise of writing.” The record then proceeds to state, that as many of the craft of Brewers had knowledge of writing and reading in the English idiom, but Latin and French they by no means understood ; and moreover, as the greater part of the Lords and trusty Commons had begun to have their proceedings noted down in the mother tongue, so they, the Brewers, had determined to follow their example. The philologist will thank Mr. Herbert for this valuable information, though he will half quarrel with him for having altered its original orthography. Under the head of Lord Mayors’ Shows, Pageants, and Triumphs of the Companies, we have some exceedingly amusing details. The Maiden Chariot, for instance, formed part of the pageant of the Mercers’ Company. “This splendid piece of machinery, Elkanah Settle tells us, was twenty-two feet high, entirely covered with silver embossed work, carried upwards of twenty superbly dressed characters, and was drawn by nine white Flanders horses, three abreast, in rich trappings of silver and white feathers, each mounted by an allegorical personage, and the whole accompanied by more than a hundred attendants.”—p. 196.

It should be observed, that a virgin is the armorial distinction of the Mercers' Company. Of the sylvan giants, or savage green men, (for notices of which masking

When effigies, representing gigantic beings, had performed their parts in a city pageant, they took up their quarters, trophy-like, in the Companies’ Halls. Numerous instances are cited by the author. Such, no doubt, was the origin of Gog and Magog, in Guildhall.

The arbitrary proceedings of Charles the Second, by writs of quo warranto, directed to the City Companies, are detailed. The Companies surrendered their ancient charters, and the King was pleased to grant them new ones,

characters we refer to the communication descriptive of Grove House Woodford, and illustrative print, in our Magazine for November last, p. 393), we have the following corresponding notice by Mr. Herbert:

“The most curious part of the land procession at the Lord Mayor's show near this time, was the sort of character called firemen, or green men, and in the coronation pageant of Anna Boleyn, ‘monstrous and horrible wild men.” These were fellows habited like savages, in having dresses partly covered with green leaves, who marched before the procession flourishing large clubs, to keep off the mob, and who were assisted by others, whimsically attired, and disguised with droll masks, having large staves or clubs headed with cases of crackers.”

Avignette, representing these “Wodehouses', or savage men, composed from Bates's Book of Fireworks, 1635, and Strutt's Sports and Pastimes, heightens

under such restrictions as he thought fit, assuming a power of approval equal to appointment of their chief officers. Chief Justice Sir George Jeffreys, the notorious judge, on the renewal of the surrendered charter of the Merchant Tailors, received a present of plate, by subscription from the Company, value 100l. Injustice and shame have no voluntary connexion with each other. The Revolution of 1688 reversed all these proceedings, and emancipated the City. Mr. Herbert, having closed his preliminary and introductory remarks, of the solid and valuable nature of which we have endeavoured briefly to convey some idea, proceeds to the particular history of each respective company, commencing with the Mercers; that of the Grocers follows, and completes this, his first half volume. Of the quality of the succeeding portion this is a most promising specimen. The praise of Mr. Herbert is, that while he has concentrated into one focus, and well digested, all that printed authorities contain of value on the subject on which he writes, he has also consulted the inedited records and MSS.


of the Companies themselves, and thus brought many hidden things of great interest to light. The book will be referred to with satisfaction by the student in general or particular history. The style is plain, and generally speaking unaffected, though here and there a quaint or new-coined expression may have crept in, such as “ancientry” and “monopolous.” We feel, in conclusion, fully justified in declaring that Mr. Herbert has by this publication proved himself worthy of the office of Archivist and Historiographer to the City of London.

Mr. D'Israeli's Curiosities of Literature, in their ninth edition, which is to be completed in six monthly volumes, have assumed the convenient form which is exactly suited to that amusing, but desultory compilation. The author is one who too often draws general conclusions from particular examples, who is too fond of a secret history not to make that of his own compilations as secret as possible, by ever studiously, concealing his authorities; but his style is light and agreeable, and his information, though not uniformly full on the various topics he discusses, nor sufficiently solid for the serious inquirer, is uniformly served up in an entertaining form, which is attractive to the general reader.

Mental Culture. By G. L. Levesox. 1233.—Mr. Leveson has founded his plans of best developing the human faculties on the system of Phrenology, the practical part of which he has condensed in a concise and convenient manner; but beauty of theory, neatness of arrangement, and elegant classification of subject, may exist in what is false or doubtful as well as in truth ; and we still feel that the theories of Phrenologists are not supported by experience.

The Classical Atlas, engraved by Mr. WILLIAM MURPHY, of Edinburgh, consists of twenty-one plates, very neatly engraved in a square pocket size, with copious index of places, mountains, rivers, &c. and an introductory Memoir of Ancient Geography.

The Rhetorical Speaker, and Poetical Class Book, by R.T. Linnington, appears to us a useful little work. The poetical selection is good, and the rules for recitation are clear and comprehensive. We recommend it to heads of schools, and to all engaged in the education of youth.

Account of Van Dieman's Land, 12mo. —A very useful little compendium of information for all who are interested in Emigration to that healthy and fine settlement. It seems most impartially written, and contains much useful and entertaining information on all subjects connected with the Colony.

The Latter Days. By MRs. SHERwood.—The object of this work is to bring forward some of the leading prophecies of Scripture, which have been discussed in a grave manner in the abstruse and learned treatises of professed biblical scholars, and which the Authoress considers are hastening to a fulfilment under the form of an allegory sanctioned by Scripture. She has endeavoured to shew, that it behoves the members of the visible Church to consider, whether they are prepared for that house in which the master of the family will return as “a thief in the night.”

Tales of the Manse. By a Gentleman gone to the Indies. First Series.—St. Kentegion, a Romance of Stratelyde.— The manuscript of this romance was said to have been discovered in a mysterious manner by a piper in subterraneous chambers which he entered in the choir of Glasgow Cathedral. The piper has long ceased to play, but the romance which he rescued from oblivion, still exists; and to those readers who may like stories of Merlin, and Cora, and Dalriad, and Drumseek, and father Kentegion, we recommend the perusal.

Europe, a Political Sketch ; and other Poems. By CHARLEs Owen APPERLEY. 1233.−Our author is a patriot as well as poet, and is a defender of the liberties of Europe as well as those of his own country. One of his Poems consists of, “Lines on the Withdrawal of the Hundred and Forty-ninth Clause of the Irish Church Bill.” The author and his friends being much disappointed that the Bishops were not banished, the churches desecrated, the clergy exiled, and the religion of the country overthrown ; or, as he expresses it more particularly, “Stern power will uphold In a nation's defiance the priest's golden dome; [done of old, And thus Discord will reign, as it hath Until in some hour the avenger may come.”

Memorials of Two Sisters.-This little work is formed of the diaries and letters of two amiable and religious young women who were sisters, and who both died in the opening promise of their lives ; but the flower of piety and Christian love leaves behind it a fragrance that is immortal, while the earthly flower, however beautiful its birth, and however radiant its glories, soon shews, like the bloom of the cistus, that it was formed but for an hour, and then fadeth away. We only wish that the pure bosoms of these two angelic sisters had not been so filled with sorrow and self-reproach, and that they had not found sin, where no one else would have discerned any thing but a fearfully-anxious desire of fulfilling their duty and spiritualizing their hearts.

The Trinity in Unity Deduced. By a Member of the Church of England.—A very pious, learned, and satisfactory work, and such as the Unitarian would find it difficult to meet. The author has traced his course of argument from the book of Genesis to the last of the Epistles; and we think he has concluded his argument triumphantly. We recommend the perusal of this work to every Christian who is anxious to know on what solid and satisfactory proofs the doctrine of the Trinity is founded and professed, and how deeply wrought it is into the the whole texture of Scripture.

Golden Hall, a Tale. By Zschok KE. —A clever, yet unpretending little volume, translated from the German. It is written in the manner of Miss Martineau's productions; and we think in some respects it excels them. The story is more entertaining, and more completely enrelopes and adorns the moral, which in tales of that lady is too obtrusively displaying the naked truth below the ornamental robes of fiction which it wears : in other words, her stories are too much like scaffoldings, ready to be taken away the moment the work is done. We feel

throughout, that the narrative is the inferior part, a slight superficial coating, and that the lesson of political economy is the sole object. Thus, the illusion of a work of fiction is destroyed. We ascertain all through the purpose of the writer, we anticipate her designs, and are always a page or two before hand with her. Her style is too didactic and unyielding, and inferior in ease to that of Mynheer Zschokke.

Abridgment of German Grammar. By J. Row Both AM. 12mo.— A clever and useful abridgment of Mr. Rowbotham's larger grammar, intended in a compendious compass to bring before the student's mind the main and prominent parts of the grammatical structure of the language.

Introduction to Hebrew. By G. F. WALKER. 8vo.—A tract small in size, but containing much information; especially that part which treats of the Spanish and Portuguese pronunciation of the Sacred Languages, meaning that portion of the Spanish and Portuguese community resident in England.

The Baboo, and other tales, descriptive of Society in India. 2 vols.-The contexture of these Tales is very slight; the characters not finished; nor the incidents well disposed ; and unfortunately the story is so cast as not to admit of a satisfactory developement. A little novelty is introduced in the person of Baboo Brigmohun Bonaigee, a native Calcutta merchant and usurer; and by a few touches of Eastern manners and character; and we have no doubt but that the novel will carry interest to those who peruse it in the marble saloons and latticed verandahs of Garden-Reach ; to whom it will be more entertaining than in the boudoirs of Arlington-street or Grosvenor-square.

The Conchologist's Companion. By MARY Rob ERts.—As we were travelling home the other day by the heavy Colchester coach, and thinking of our critical labours again commencing, an intelligent young lady, who had left Bedford that morning, and who was going to be a governess at St. Osyth, said to us, “I think, Sir, it is universally acknowledged, that female talent in England is totally eclipsing that belonging to the other sex.” We acknowledged the justness of the observation, and see fresh illustrations of the truth every day. The distaff is dropping from every female hand, and the pen or compasses taking its place. Our fair writers are now as numerous as our brown and bearded authors; not a science es—

« PreviousContinue »